JACKSONVILLE – A quick word before we begin …
The tone of this O-Zone won't be dramatically different than Thursday's O-Zone Late Night. Fans/readers are angry and legitimately so; the frustration oozes from most emails.
That is expected. It is as it should be.
There are many questions about change in the wake of a 36-22 loss to the Tennessee Titans. I haven't expected Jaguars Owner Shad Khan to make a mid-season coaching change because he often has said he doesn't believe in them. A change indeed is not expected to happen in the coming days.
But the talk of change no doubt will continue among fans. So will the discontent. I don't see at this point how anyone could expect any different. The inbox is not a happy place. Nor should it be.
Let's get to it … Dejected fan @!#* from down in a hole:
John, PLEASE show me some light at the end of this dark and dismal tunnel of football that is Jacksonville football. … I, the Jags fan, need a pep talk to keep MY head up during these dark days in Jacksonville.
John: Perchance you have come to the wrong place. It's not that I don't seek to oblige, but I'm not sure how much pep I have to give this morning. Thursday wasn't pretty – and in fact, it was just about the darkest loss imaginable. The Jaguars were thoroughly and embarrassingly dominated on national television. This did not look like an improved team. It did not look like a team with fight. It did not look particularly well-prepared. It was comparable to the San Diego Chargers game earlier this season in which the Jaguars trailed 21-0 at halftime. An improved team should not have losses in which the game feels over in the second quarter. But the Jaguars have had two such losses this season. That's not a pep talk, but I don't know … for some reason I don't feel all that peppy this morning.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Make it stop, John. Just make it stop.
John: I would if I could, Steve. I would if I could.
Bill from Lancaster, PA:
I'm utterly speechless!!
John: You know what? I sort of am, too. This is my 22nd season covering the NFL and that game was as total a domination by one team over the other as I can remember. I suppose there have been others, but it was total defeat on a rare scale. Worse for the Jaguars, they seemed to lose all life and hope once they allowed two early second-quarter touchdowns. There have been concerning happenings the last two weeks. Player ejections. Continued penalties. Complete breakdowns. Is that coaching? That surely isn't blameless. I don't know how Gus Bradley and the staff can get this thing fixed. I don't know if they can. I do know right now it seems like a monstrous task. We'll see what happens.
James from Destin, FL:
Dear John, there's no sense in taking my frustration out on your forum. I've lost my fanning mojo. I did write to give you something happy to think about. Christmas is only 59 days away!
Chris from Orlando, FL:
Post this John, it looks like the defense is a high school tonight all out of position and already stupid penalties. And the offense looks worse than a high school team, it looks like to me like a team has quit already before halftime, tell me that is not what you see?
John: It undoubtedly looked a lot like that. Thursday was as bad a performance – particularly in the first half – as you'll see the NFL.
Chad from Yulee, FL:
"NFL winning football?" This defense is nowhere close, John.
John: No, what the defense did on Thursday was not NFL winning football. It very clearly had played winning football on multiple occasions this season, but Thursday was not that. Not by a long shot.
Eric from Tallahassee and Section 151:
I know this won't get posted and that's OK, because we all know it. We lost to Mike Mularkey and the Titans in the second year of their rebuild, and it wasn't close. Something is fatally flawed. Where do we go from here?
John: It got posted.
Bon Jovi from Gus Bradley's new team:
It's bad when the only positive from this game is that Blake didn't throw a pick.
John: Well, that was something.
Travis from Albuquerque, NM:
This is rock bottom right, O? I had hopes. I had dreams that this year would be better. That the team would be competitive in every game. That the division title wasn't even crazy to think about. Now, here we are falling on our faces again. It's hard to stand behind this team at times. It gets tougher to defend the team every week. I will always be a fan and want the Jags to succeed, but I'm having a really hard time finding reasons to watch this team this season. Maybe I need a vacation away from it. Maybe it's time for some changes. #DTWD but I'm gonna take a break. It's hard to watch a train wreck.
John: Your feelings are understandable. I was asked Thursday night if the wheels had come off. I replied essentially that if they hadn't, I didn't want to be around when they did. I suppose the answer is pretty much the same if you're asking me if this is rock bottom.
Joe from St. Augustine, FL:
I thought Oakland was embarrassing. At least they're a good team. To lose to the Titans like this is disgraceful.
John: Well, the Titans are 4-4, so they're not awful … but yeah … if the loss to Oakland was embarrassing, then this is something different. And something far worse.
Levi from Jacksonville:
Do you think it would have been OK to boo Thursday or would that have been mean and hurt the players' feelings? DTWD but we dead!!!
John: Yes, it would have been OK to boo Thursday. I'm actually not sure how it would have been avoided.
Brett from Canton, MS:
Apathy is setting in when I watch this team. I don't expect anything good to happen. I don't expect to see anything different tried. I expect teams to score against us most of the time because we give them 11 free yards a drive. I expect a three-and-out with a pitiful run attempt, a penalty, and a horribly thrown ball. I am surprised when we get a first down now. I'm getting to where I don't care what happens anymore and I haven't felt that way about the Jags ever. Something has to change because I know I'm not alone.
John: That's a fair feeling. And to be quite honest it has been difficult in the past two games to expect much good to happen, particularly when the Jaguars are playing offense. There doesn't seem to be anything that works, and the primary issues – Bortles' accuracy and the inability of the offensive line to create running room – don't seem to be going away. As far as the apathy … yes, I have heard that from more than one reader. It's not good, but you're not wrong. It's up to this team to change your feelings. This is not the fans' fault.
Emily from Richland, WA:
Throw then run. Throw then run. Run to throw isn't working. Inflexibility is killing this team.
John: Emily, I wish I could tell you it was only play-calling.
Emile from Tallahassee, FL:
This has to be the low point for the franchise, right John? I mean, it can't get worse than losing convincingly to your two previous head coaches while your current team offers nary a glimmer of hope, right?
John: Pretty much.
Kevin from North Dakota:
Well zone, shut off my first Jags game.
John: I can't imagine you were remotely alone.
Jason from Jacksonville:
John, did I mention someone's getting fired? This is a complete embarrassment for our city and the fans that invest everything they have into this team. Put down the Jag hat for a minute John, and tell us you agree there needs to be a change made.
John: Yes, Thursday was embarrassing – and there's no question I wondered during that loss if there might be a change made. I imagine there were very few people who didn't at least wonder that – and I know many, many fans expected and wanted that. But I don't agree that a midseason change should be made. That has nothing to do with any hats I may or may not wear and everything to do with midseason changes not historically having positive outcomes.
James from Orange Park, FL:
Game wasn't as close as the score may indicate.
John: You're absolutely right. The final score was profoundly misleading because someone just seeing the score might believe this was a two-touchdown game. It wasn't. The Jaguars trailed 27-0 at halftime. They had been outgained 354-60. The Titans had 20 first downs to three for the Jaguars. That pretty much defined the one-sided nature of the game. I frankly can't remember seeing anything quite like it. Or perhaps I blocked it out.